Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Memorial Day Session #3 - Epilogue

At last... Game day. Going into Monday, the grilling plan was far from certain. I would be quarterbacking the event, but when I woke up the menu and the guest list was still to be determined. Knowing there would most likely be a holiday rush, I headed to SUPER Stop & Shop at 8:30 AM so I could get first dibs at the meat and produce.

Stop & Shop did not disappoint. I walked into the store and was immediately greeted by a produce worker piling up fresh corn on the cob. My previous corn selection was second rate so I was inclined to serve up some grilled asparagus. But when I saw the corn I had to do it, especially given the occasion. I had toyed with the idea of doing a stuffed chicken and the racks of beautiful thick cut Purdue chicken breasts sealed the deal. After browsing the rest of the produce section, I decided to stuff the chicken with spinach and a blend of mozzarella, ricotta and Parmesan cheeses.

Happy Memorial Day

In addition to Nat and Cassie, I anticipated cooking for an additional five people including my roommate Mariel. I had to bring backup. To help feed the masses I picked up a huge package of beautiful chicken wings and a bottle of Ah So Sauce, a neon pink Chinese style barbecue sauce that immediately puts your chicken wings on steroids. Finally I grabbed some hamburger meat so I could pad every ones appetite and ensure that everyone got some of the good stuff.

Upon my return from the store I started the prep work. First, I seasoned the chicken breasts and placed them in a marinade of Italian dressing. I coated the chicken wings in the Ah So sauce and put everything in the fridge. Once the main players started arriving, I sauteed the spinach in a skillet with some olive oil and chopped garlic. Once the spinach cooked through, I slit each chicken breast laterally and stuffed the spinach and cheese in the newly created pocket. After each piece of chicken was stuffed I pinned it shut with a toothpick and sprinkled the top with breadcrumbs.

With the coals started and the food prepped, Cassie began addressing our new glaring problem: We forgot to buy beer. While this may not seem like a formidable solution to the rest of the earth, this is an enormous obstacle to those of us living in backwards ass Massachusetts. We had already failed at a disastrous multi-town search for an open liquor store, so Cassie took my formidable collection of miscellaneous hard alcohol and proceeded to create some delicious summertime drinks.

I bet you didn't know jean shorts were back

I placed the chicken breasts on the back of the grill to let them cook slowly. Hamburgers were placed over the coals to cook through quickly as my guests were growing impatient. I wanted to boost the chickens flavor as much as possible so I began adding hickory wood chips that I had soaked earlier. The chicken cooked through perfectly and the blend of cheeses kept the meat incredibly moist. When the stuffed chicken breasts were off the grill I piled on the chicken wings and started boiling the corn. I applied several new coats of Ah So sauce while the wings cooked through.

Stuffed chicken

The results of our grilling efforts were top notch. Both the stuffed chicken and the Chinese chicken wings provided an interesting twist to the menu and we successfully accommodated the thirteen total guests who came to enjoy our grilling madness. Cassie provided the most impressive after dinner treat with a home made thatched crust cherry pie that was a flat out show-stopper. With the help of some great appetizers, Frisbee, Nat's iPod and the Nintendo Wii, we went the distance and capped our memorial day weekend with a truly epic grilling session.

Cherry pie

Thanks to Alyson Dusseault for letting us use the awesome Polaroids she took.

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Monday, May 28, 2007

BBQ Video: Kansas City Urban Grilling

Take a trip to the 40's and 50's with this look back at the roots of urban grilling.



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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Memorial Day Session #2

Cassie and I grilled up some chicken fajitas in the alley on Smokey Joe this afternoon. Freshly squeezed margaritas, grilled chicken with peppers and onion, and some corn on the cob from our neighbors who were also grilling. A perfect Sunday afternoon.

Fajitas and Margaritas

Yum

Now for a nap.

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Memorial Day Session #1

As we headed into a glorious Memorial Day weekend Nat and I decided this was a prime opportunity to really get our grilling back on track. Waking up early Saturday morning, I though steaks would be a great place to start as we hadn't really done steaks to their fullest in some time. Well, it turned out that Nat had some steaks that had been marinading since 1987... This was a good sign of things to come.

We headed to the SUPER Stop & Shop around noon to gather further equipment. Bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers were the logical opening act as they cook fairly quickly and the spicy flavor fits nicely with a summer style cookout. For sides we went with chopped BBQ vegetables and boiled corn on the cobb. During our trek Nat stumbled across some glorious hickory wood chips, a prize we had been searching for in previous grilling sessions. Finally, we capped it off with a rack of fresh pork ribs which would take the hickory smoke perfectly.

Upon our return, first step was to prep all the food. With the steak marinading in the fridge, Nat mixed together a spicy rub for the pork ribs made with paprika, ground peppercorn, cayenne red pepper, sea salt and Mrs. Dash Southwest Chipotle seasoning blend. We chopped onion, potato, red pepper and green pepper into 1.5 inch pieces which we slathered in Jack Daniels original BBQ sauce and wrapped shut with tin foil. Lastly, we took the hickory woodchips and soaked them in water until it was time to start the insanity.

Matt tends the coals

We started the coals with about a gallon and a half of lighter fluid because A) I left the bag of charcoal outside for a week so the coals were damp from a rainstorm and B) someone in charge of my apartment building threw out my coal chimney stack because they couldn't identify the rusted mass for what it was. Once the fire finally started going we added the soaked hickory chips and placed an aluminum tray of Sierra Nevada ale next to the coals to flavor the food above.

The spread

We decided to slow cook the ribs so we could maximize the sun and get as much smokey flavor as possible. The bag of BBQ vegetables was placed on direct heat so we could get as much indirect surface area as possible for the jalapenos and the steak. Once everything was in place we covered the grill and me, Nat and my brother Kevin proceeded to make good use of Nat's new frisbee.

Success

The results of our grilling session were better than we could have ever anticipated. The jalapeno poppers were incredibly spicy, as Nat said he left the seeds in the jalapeno slices. We took Nat's marinaded steak off the grill at the absolute perfect moment and the BBQ vegetables were chock full o' flavor. After devouring the main event, we force-fed ourselves the slow cooked ribs and corn on the cobb. It's easy to forget the impact that wood chips can have on a meal and this grilling session was a helpful reminder. The bar has definitely been raised.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Urban grilling

A running theme here at the BBQ blog, and you'll have to take my word that it continued to be one during our one year hiatus, is the challenge of urban grilling. Public transportation, social diversity, an abundance of interesting career options and cultural events... In the eyes of the pit master, none of this means jack when it comes with the burden of not being able to grill. Shockingly, most one bedroom apartments in Boston do not come with a half acre of manicured lawn.

Going the entire summer with stove cooked meals is not an option. The resourceful urban griller knows this, and is capable of overcoming. Last night we fired up Smokey Joe, originally drafted to the team for Patriot's tailgating duties, in our back alley. Most people who aren't from the city consider an alleyway to be a narrow space filled with trash, muggers and working women. In our case, its a pleasant space with some convenient steps that serve as stairs and overhead lighting (which is unfortunately motion sensitive, so keep moving).

Dinner consisted of teriyaki marinated free range chicken breasts and grilled asparagus. Easy, fast and delicious, the key words every author knows and loves when marketing recipes to people who whine about not having time to do anything.

The Chicken:
Good free range meat (ideally local), trimmed to serving size. Hit it with some pepper, kosher salt and some hot pepper if you aren't a sissy. Submerge in store bought teriyaki sauce in a plastic bag and throw it in the freezer. The day you want to grill, put the chicken in the fridge before you go to work, and unless you have a super cold fridge, it should be ready to grill when you get home.

The Asparagus:
Toss your fresh asparagus, trimmed of course, with some olive oil and a dash of kosher salt. Squeeze on some lemon and you're done.

Grilling:
Wait for the coals to burn down to medium heat. If you're cooking on a small grill like the Smokey Joe, this is particularly important. The small surface area and close proximity between grate and coals leaves little margin for error, and nobody likes dry chicken. I found that the asparagus cooks at about the same rate as a trimmed chicken breast, so this meal is super easy.

Get your coals piled up on one side, and arrange everything around the middle of the grate so nothing is directly over the highest point of the coal pile. Flip after five minutes and cook another four and you should be in business. As always with chicken, if you overcook it you'll get a lot of excessive chewing and 'no really its good' from the people you're cooking for. So don't screw it up and cook it too long.

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Monday, May 21, 2007

BBQ Video: Bleu cheese burgers

Some people say internet video puts a lot of folks in front of the camera that really shouldn't be there. But those people don't get to eat delicious bleu cheese bbq burgers because they didn't get to see MC Freshbread's awesome instructional video.



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Posted by Nat Tarbox. 1 comments

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The BBQ Blog Returns to Grill Again

Hello friends, and welcome once again to the begining of the return of the infamouse BBQ blog. As you can see, things have been in a state of disrepair for quite some time now. Today we start work on changing that.

New Design:
I'm using this update as an exercise in learning to code proper XHTML and CSS, something I've been putting off for far, far too long. We probably won't get to a finished design right off the bat, but it should at least be usable soon.

Revive the old posts:

The photo host I was using went under and I never bothered moving links around. I'm going to get all the photos up on Flickr, which I assume won't be going out of business any time soon, and also take the opportunity to make the photos larger than they have been in the past. Hopefully I still have everything going back to 2005.

Fresh new content:

Matt and I are ready to grill. I have a backlog of recipes to get posted as well.

Welcome back!

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Posted by Nat Tarbox. 1 comments